Malware, the abbreviation of two words malicious and software, is a term for any program created with malicious intent.
Theft of your personal information or the access through a backdoor to your computer, to its resources, and its data without your consent, are the most common examples of malicious intent. Software that accomplishes something it didn’t say it would do might be classified as malware as well.
Malware is frequently referred to as computer contamination in legal documents, so if you ever encounter this term know, it’s simply a fancy way of describing malware.
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How malware infects your computer
Malware has a variety of ways to infiltrate computers or other devices.
It can get access to your computer by exploiting security flaws in your operating system and other software e.g. browsers that are out of date, as well as their party add-ons or plugins, are simple targets.
The majority of malware is installed by users (you!) who aren’t paying attention and hurry through application installs that include harmful software. Unless you expressly instruct them not to, many programs install malware-infected toolbars, download helpers, system and internet optimizers, fraudulent antivirus software, and other utilities by default.
Another typical source of malware downloads, which appear to be harmless at first glance. For example, a simple picture, video, or audio file, but are actually malicious executable files that install the dangerous program. This happens often with torrents.
How to remove malware
Outside of the most serious malware infections, the majority can be removed with a few easy steps.
Actual programs, such as the genuine software you use every day, are the most frequent forms of malware. And these programs ( at least in Windows operating system) can be removed in the same way as other programs via the Control Panel.
A third-party uninstaller is also a viable option.
Other malware, such as rogue registry keys or single files can only be deleted manually.
Antimalware programs and comparable specialized software are ideal tools for removing these types of malware infections. There are various absolutely free virus and malware scanners that can eliminate most types of malware fast and painlessly. Lifewire.com has listed the 6 best free malware removal programs in this article.
How to protect yourself from malware
- Take precautions to prevent malware from ever infecting your computer or device, so make sure you have an antivirus/antimalware tool installed. And set it up to regularly monitor for indicators of harmful activity in downloads and active files.
- Installing a second malware/virus scanner, from a different vendor, has become standard procedure nowadays.
- Modify your habits – e.g. avoid opening emails and attachments from people or organizations you don’t know sent through any of the messaging platforms. Even if you recognize the sender, make sure that the attachment is something you expected or follow up with sender in another message. Becuase auto-mailing copies of malware to friends and relatives from an email contact list is one of the newest methods to spread ransomware.
- Constantly update your operating system and software, especially the security updates, as they become available.
Most common malware types
Despite the fact that some of these labels can be used to describe software with a valid, non-malicious goal, malware is widely thought to exist in one or more of the following forms:
Is a small application that attempts to harm your device by getting access to it. It has the ability to copy your personal info and slow down your device. A virus replicates itself and attaches itself to additional files to propagate. Learn more about viruses on Wikipedia.
Is meant to spy on and collect information from an unsuspecting target. It keeps track of your passwords, credit card details, and surfing history, among other things. Kaspersky antivirus explains spyware further here.
May reproduce and spread over a network, gaining access to other computers and devices that are linked to the infected host. Worms are often employed by hackers to consume bandwidth or manipulate files or applications on a computer system. Read more on worms on Wikipedia.
A Trojan horse
It disguises itself as genuine software and installs onto a computer. A Trojan horse gets its name from the way it’s delivered: an attacker often uses social engineering to disguise harmful code within genuine software. A Trojan, unlike computer viruses or worms, does not replicate itself, therefore it must be installed by a legitimate user. Norton antivirus explains trojan horses further on their website.
Is designed to change Internet browser settings without the user’s knowledge or permission. Hijackers frequently alter the default search settings and homepage of a browser. Some hijackers also include keyloggers, which can record user keystrokes in order to capture potentially sensitive information, such as account passwords, that users type into websites. For more info read the Avast website.
Is a set of programs designed to provide hackers access to a computer, network or application. This dangerous program creates backdoor access to a computer and may transmit further malware, such as ransomware, bots, keyloggers, or trojans, once it is triggered. Read more about Rootkit on the Kaspersky antivirus website if interested.
Is the use of internet ad networks to propagate infected advertisements across well-known and well-trusted websites. These advertisements will show on your favorite news site or social media sites, and they will appear to be legitimate, but they will lead users to malicious websites or install viruses on their systems. For more info read this Wikipedia article.
Other programs might be classified as harmful simply because they have a malicious goal. But the ones described above are so frequent that they have their own category.
Our additional resources:
- Uninstall Helper Homepage
- Internet Help Articles